Here it is! My last blog post for COETAIL course 5. You can find my video at the bottom of this page.
What were your goals for your project?
Our goals for this project were to inspire curiosity in students about math in the real world, to make problem solving come alive, to encourage mathematical conversation and to grow a community of teachers and students who share their excitement about math in the real world by contributing and exploring perplexing real world math problems.
We wanted to address the following standards from the Common Core: Common Core State Standards for Mathematical Practices
Standard 1: Make sense of problems and persevere in solving them
Standard 2: Reason abstractly and quantitatively
Standard 3: Construct viable arguments and critique the reasoning of others
Standard 4: Model with mathematics
Standard 5: Use appropriate tools strategically
Standard 6: Attend to precision
Standard 7: Look for and make use of structure
Standard 8: Look for and express regularity in repeated reasoning
What tools did you use? Why did you choose these tools?
To make the videos I used iMovie. I used this tool as I find it quite user friendly. It is also the tool for making videos that I feel most comfortable with and have had previous experience with. Google presentation was used to make the questions presented to my students. Once, again ease of use and experience led me to this tool. Google Docs also proved to be helpful in typing up the students feedback. I also found it easy to link anything in my google drive to my blog post and Wikispace.
We used a Wikispace called Real World Math. Finding Solutions to share our perplexing questions with colleagues. This was a new tool for me. I found it quite easy to navigate and a great forum in which to share our ideas with others. We also shared our ideas on Twitter and g+. Both great social networks that allowed us to get our ideas out to a wider audience.
For the most recent question that my students have worked on, they used Explain Everything to show their thinking. We are fortunate enough in 3rd grade to have 2:1 iPad program that has just been implemented so I have been enjoying trying to incorporate this technology into our real world math.
How did you go about introducing your project?
I decided to first introduce “real world math” problems to a small group of students with similar mathematical abilities. We found a quiet space outside of the classroom, students brought their math journals and a pencil and we were ready to go. The students also seemed to be excited at the prospect of math being presented to them in a different way. We began with the movie and just by watching it, they had an idea that the problem had to do with how much paper that we use. When I introduced the task, there eyes lit up with excitement. I could tell that they were ready to be challenged. I talked them through the process of estimating and trying to figure out what information was needed to figure out the problem. It didn’t take them long to understand what was being asked of them. I found it very useful to start with a small group and use the valuable feedback that they shared with me before moving to the whole class.
As I moved to the next problem to introduce, I was feeling more prepared, having reflected on how my first problem went. I modified my ideas and then introduced a new question to the whole class. They also embraced the idea and I could see that they were beginning to shift their thinking. I found the student feedback invaluable and would inform my lessons as well as the next problem that I would present to them.
How did the students react?
The students were very excited! They really seemed to enjoy beginning the problems with some kind of video. I strived to make the problems accessible to all and encouraged them to work together (or by themselves) as they felt comfortable. I could see them feeling a sense of ownership as we continued to do more of the problems. They became more comfortable with the estimation aspect of the questions and really enjoyed and felt a sense of accomplishment trying to figure out what information was needed in order to figure out the problem. The latter was one area that I haven’t asked them to do before (I have usually given them the information needed to solve a problem) and I can see the benefit in having the students use those critical thinking skills before they attempt to solve the problems. It really takes their thinking to another level. You can read their feedback in my previous blog posts. Please refer to the video for more student reactions.
Did you meet your goals?
This is a question I have been continually asking myself throughout the process of the project. As I revisit the goals that we set, I would have to say I believe the answer is Yes! There is no doubt that the students were excited to experience problems from the real world. I supposed their increased engagement int the problems stemmed from this idea as well as their curiosity. The students enjoyed seeing the problems come alive and had wonderful conversations with their peers about the problems.
I think as far as growing a community and teachers who share their excitement about math in the real world by contributing and exploring perplexing real world math problems, we are on our way! There is no doubt that this goal will take time and we are all committed to continuing on with this aspect of the project.
Evidence of learning?
The clear signs that there was evidence of student learning was their engagement in the problems. They were so excited to get to work and solve what was presented to them. They also had wonderful mathematical conversations with each other and were able to grow their ideas together. Students were able to represent their thinking in words, pictures and numbers. Please refer to the video for more evidence of student learning. I would like for the students to create their own perplexity problems. This is what I have planned for the next steps in my project. This will help provide even greater evidence of student learning and I think the students will love it!
What would you do differently next time? What did you learn?
I learned how important it is that students can connect their learning to the real world. This is not only an important motivator for student learning but students take more ownership for the problems when they can see the reason behind doing them. I also learned how powerful technology can be when used in the classroom and how important it is to have a repertoire of apps/tools that you feel comfortable with. This knowledge makes it much easier to be able to use technology more often in creative and transformative ways in the classroom.
I also learned how challenging it can be to make perplexity problems for grade 3’s. From what I been able to find, there aren’t a lot of problems of this nature for elementary students. Hopefully, as we continue to spread the word, more ideas and problems will be shared and this can be a new way of doing math.
How do/did you plan to share this with your colleagues?
The first thing that we did was make a Wikispace for myself, Elaine and Heather to share our problems. The hope is that others will feel inspired by our ideas and we can continue to grow and share our bank of perplexity problems. I have shared my ideas with my grade three colleagues at SSIS and they are very interested in introducing the ideas to their students and making some problems together.
I have joined g+ and am working on growing my PLN on there. I have also joined the group Connected Classrooms Community, COETAIL and Coetail Course 5 Final Project. I plan to share my ideas in these groups as well as on Twitter.
What was your greatest learning in this course?
My greatest learning in this course is to just go for it and to not be afraid to put yourself out there! I found myself time and again using new tools and experimenting with new ways of approaching learning with my students. I decided to just dive in and see where it led us both. It was very exciting and allowed me to grow as a teacher. There’s a learning curve to everything and I also found the constant reflection that I was doing about my lessons and problems guided my way to the next step. I am feeling more confident in using technology in my classroom in new and redefining ways. I have realized that if it doesn’t work how you wanted to the first time, it’s ok, make some changes and try again. I am feeling more confident with the tools that I am using in my classroom (as are my students) and taking risks in my teaching.
Did this implementation meet the definition of Redefinition?
Another question that I have spent a great time thinking about. As far as student learning and engagement, I would have to say yes. I think that getting the word out to our colleagues at SSIS as well as those around the world, is a big part in our project moving towards redefining what we do in our classrooms. There’s always room to grow!